What started out as a celebratory birthday hike in the Arkansas wilderness turned into a race against the clock to stay alive. Now, after more than a week of searching, rescuers have located him and brought him home.
Joshua McClatchy almost didn’t live to see another birthday when he became disoriented and lost his way while traipsing through a remote area of the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas.
The last anyone heard from McClatchy was when he the birthday boy texted his mom and told her that he was hopelessly lost on his hike along the Caney Creek Wilderness Area’s Buckeye Trail.
That text messages sparked a widespread search and rescue effort in the impossibly dense forest. Bloodhounds and drones were employed in the attempt to locate the missing man; efforts to reach the hiker by cell phone were unsuccessful.
The 38-year-old Texas man was feared dead when the first several days of the rescue effort turned up no trace of him.
Then, around 10:30 pm on the seventh day after sending that fateful text to his mother, McClatchy was finally spotted. One of the searchers saw a glimmer coming from the man’s flashlight and the rescuers were on him in flash.
Once they were able to get him to safety, the rescue team had him transported to an area hospital where he was reportedly doing well.
“He is well,” said his sister, Miranda Balduf. “He is recovering from dehydration. He is really good.”
It’s truly a miracle that he survived, considering that, according to one of McClatchy's friends, the hiker hadn’t had any water for several days prior to his discovery.
No word as to whether or not the lucky-to-be-alive hiker plans any more treks in the wilderness in the near future, but it's safe to say he'll give it serious thought before heading out alone again.